How to get your letters to have that bounce.

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Some of you have started to notice a trend in calligraphy that is not always discussed at a beginner level. And that is the bouncing letters.

Many calligraphers train their students to write all letters on a straight baseline focusing on making the letters consistently sized. This is a great way to master a consistent style, but as you begin to get the hang of calligraphing every letter- it’s time to add some excitement to your lettering. This is where “bouncy letters” come in.

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It is important that you have already been practicing your alphabet and are working toward creating consistent letter forms before fully focusing on the bouncing style of your letters. You want to be able to create a natural flow as you are writing your letters. When you give bounce to your letters, it should be free flowing and connect your letters in a visually appealing way.

Here are my steps toward creating that bounce:

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When you are creating a piece or practicing, think about the whole word or phrase that you are writing. Are there a lot of tall letters or short letters? Is there a good mixture of tall & short letters? Focus on making all of the letters “fit” into the look for the whole piece. The “bouncy” look is an attempt to balance out words and phrases with varying ascenders and descenders. You want all of your words and letters to fit into the piece and work together.

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The number one way to create that bouncy look is simply to offset tall and short letters. The best example is in the word “letters” written in the picture above. The letters l and t are considered tall letters, while e is a tiny little letter. Because of this, I tend to place the e at about the midpoint of those letters so that it balances the word out a little bit and makes the tall letters a little bit less tall. This may not come naturally or easily, but the more that you practice you’ll find it becomes easier to accomplish!

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Here’s another thing that I’ve noticed about some of my bouncier letters: they are very close together. They don’t have to be close together, but I feel that this creates a more balanced and bouncy look! Scrunch the letters together horizontally and balance them out vertically (those tall & short offsets!). This will create a well-balanced piece that is visually appealing! I like to make my smaller letters even smaller and squish them between the tall letters. This is the look that works for me!

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Most importantly, though, what’s the whole point of bouncy letters? The purpose is to create a balanced, fun, and imperfect look in your lettering. This means that you need to enjoy it and embrace the imperfections. It isn’t supposed to look perfectly planned or space exactly the right way (especially not the first time!). Make sure you have fun with the words and letters. It may take your four or five tries to get one word correct, but that’s how many it takes me sometimes as well! It’s not about being perfect right away, but continuing to work hard and creating something beautiful!

These are my tips for creating a bounce in your lettering. You may try these tips and find that this doesn’t work for creating the bouncy letters that you enjoy. Something I love about calligraphy is the fact that every individual does it a little bit differently, which creates so many different styles.

What would you do differently? Tell us in the comments below!

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